“Go ye therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
– Matt 28.19-20
If you have spent any time in church during your lifetime, you have more than likely heard a sermon preached on this passage. The Great Commission was the ultimate instruction of Jesus as to the purpose of the Church. It consummated his teachings, it conveyed His heart and offered clear instructions for His followers.
So why do we not share?
Over the years I have oscillated between answers to that question, most often coming to rest on “fear”. We are afraid of rejection, we are afraid of not having the answers to questions that will be posed, we are afraid of socially awkward situations or breaking a relationship. It is even common amongst Christians today to believe that we must first earn someone’s trust through months or years of relationship before ever breaching the topic.
But recently I have been coming to the conclusion that our lack of sharing is based fundamentally on a lack of belief. I first saw this video in the 90’s:
Admittedly, I know nothing more about Penn Jillette than what you can read on Wikipedia. And while I would be quick to point out the distinction that needs to be made between evangelism and proselytization (to evangelize is to share your faith, to proselytize often carries the connotation of conversion for gain – monetary, social, relief aid, etc), his point is clear. And in this video he states that he is an atheist but asks the simple question:
“How much do you have to hate somebody to believe that everlasting life is possible and not tell them that?”
He then illustrates his point with the analogy of a man who is at risk of being hit by a bus. If a person is in danger, and you do not warn him – Jillette argues that there comes a point where you tackle the man regardless of his thoughts. American culture mandates the Good Samaritan response of helping the person in need – even if he is unaware of his need. So why would we willfully neglect the greatest, eternal need of every human being? We must not fundamentally believe it.
Would you yell a warning or pull someone out of the street if they were in the path of an oncoming bus?
J. I. Packer says “There is something badly wrong with a Christian who does not have a passion for evangelism”. I wholeheartedly agree. And the buck starts with me. Last month a man in his late sixties poured out his life story to me. He even asked me if I had a faith to get me through, and while I said “Yes, God has been my rock and the only thing to get me through this past eighteen months”, I neglected to offer him the hope that I have – even though he told me that he does not have a faith. Do I truly believe that apart from Christ he will go to Hell? If so, why did I keep silent? If I would push a person out of the path of a bus, why would I not warn him of eternal damnation?
Do you believe it? Or is Christianity just something you do?